Edinburgh Accessibility Commission to help make streets inclusive for everyone

An Accessibility Commission will be formally established to make sure Edinburgh’s public spaces are as inclusive as possible for disabled people.

On Thursday (11 January) Transport and Environment Committee will be asked to note the next steps for establishing the commission, including its Terms of Reference. These will cover the roles and responsibilities of Commissioners, who will represent a range of accessibility, disability, walking and public transport organisations*.

In December, internationally recognised disability activist Zara Todd was appointed as chair of the Accessibility Commission. Ms Todd, who has previously been chair of Inclusion London and deputy chair of public body Equality 2025, has advised the British Council, the Fundamental Rights Agency and Transport for London on disability and accessibility issues, and has over 20 years’ experience in chairing and facilitating inclusive meetings.

She will lead the Accessibility Commission in providing independent advice to the Council on the challenges, opportunities and actions required to make sure the city’s public streets and spaces are accessible for disabled people.

Councillor Scott Arthur, Transport and Environment Convener, said:

I am proud that Edinburgh is a welcoming and diverse city, but it’s clear that there is much work to be done to make it truly accessible and inclusive for everyone. In the coming decade transport in our capital will evolve substantially to accommodate growth, tackle congestion and respond to the climate emergency. This transition is also a huge opportunity to a create a more equal city, and the Accessibility Commission is there to help ensure that happens.

The Accessibility Commission will focus on addressing that challenge, and listening to the needs of disabled people to make our streets and public spaces as accessible as possible.

Zara Todd brings with her a wealth of personal and professional experience which will be invaluable to the Commission’s aims. As a resident of Edinburgh she knows what works here, and also where we have made mistakes in recent years. I look forward to working with her, and other Commission members, to make Edinburgh a better place for everyone to live, work and visit.

Zara Todd said:

As a disabled Edinburgh resident it is great to see the council taking accessibility seriously, I look forward to working with everybody involved.

The establishment of an Accessibility Commission follows several motions from councillors in support of Transport for All’s Equal Pavements Pledge, which commits to ensuring streets are accessible for everyone. Progress has been made to set up the group, including discussions around challenges faced by people with disabilities in accessing Edinburgh’s public streets and spaces, along with the role, remit and membership of a new Accessibility Commission.

It is intended to hold the Commission’s first meeting in February 2024.

Read the full Accessibility Commission report being considered by Transport and Environment Committee on Thursday, 11 January. 

*Commissioners comprise a representative from each of the following organisations:

  • Edinburgh Access Panel
  • Edinburgh Trams
  • Equality and Rights Network
  • Euan’s Guide
  • HCL Transport
  • Inclusion Scotland
  • Living Streets Edinburgh Group
  • Lothian Buses
  • Lothian Centre for Inclusive Living
  • Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland
  • National Federation for the Blind Scotland
  • People First (Scotland)
  • Royal National Institute of Blind People
  • Sight Scotland and Sight Scotland Veterans
  • Sustrans

• The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (Scotland)
• The Scottish Assembly

Published: January 8th 2024